There’s less swelling now and a shocking lack of pretty colours. The steri-strips came off and the gunk underneath is the superglue holding it together.
And I urge you to watch Rob Newman’s “History of Oil“, coz he’s far funnier than I’ll ever be, and talks like a guttersnipe, which is far closer to how I speak when I’m in the UK than how I speak now.
As for his historical claims, he’s pretty clearly bang on. His story goes: Britain created Iraq and we’ve been pfaffing with it ever since. In the last ninety years, British troops have been in or over Iraq for fifty of them. We’ve done it to stop anyone else getting their oil. Now, we claim we’re there to bring democracy. Are we surprised when no-one believes us? And yes, we’re no better than anyone else.
A debatable thesis? Well, the facts run thus:
1903 onwards – Germany tries to build a railway from Berlin to Baghdad.
1912 – UK navy starts to switch to oil.
1914 – WWI kicks off. In one corner, Germany, Austria, the Ottoman Empire (Turkey to you). Where does the railway run? Through those countries, to the oil fields of Iraq.
1915 – Britain invades Basra and heads for Baghdad.
1915 – ANZACs and others fight to free Europe! By invading Turkey at Gallipoli. Yeah, that bit never made much sense to me either.
1920 – League of Nations officially put Britain control of Iraq. Ottoman Empire objects, gets arse kicked by British. Iraqis revolt, get arse kicked by British.
1922 – Ottoman Empire finally gives up the ghost. Britain still in control of Iraq.
1927 – More oil found. The British promise to pay Iraq for it in twenty years time.
1930 – Anglo-Iraqi Treaty, British troops allowed bases and free movement throughout Iraq.
1932 – Iraq gets independence from the UK. Iraq still full of British troops, so not quite sure what independence means.
1941 – The Anglo-Iraqi War, about which side of WWII Iraq was going to be on. It only lasted a month, because luckily, British troops and aircraft were in Iraq already, at the permanent bases allowed for by the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty. Britain attacks Baghdad and reinstalls the monarchy. Iraqi airforce destroyed.
1943 – Kurds revolt again. We bomb them.
1945 – Kurds revolt again. We bomb them.
1948 – Treaty of Portsmouth allows British troops to remain in Iraq. Iraqis rebel, troops stay.
1955 – British troops finally leave Iraq after forty years.
1958 – Coup in Iraq, Pro-British government run by General Nuri overthrown.
1978 – The US delivers the last of 79 super-secret F-14 Tomcat fighters to Iran.
1979 – Iranian Revolution. Soviets get to fondle the Tomcats.
1980-88 – Britain and US not at war with Iraq. A million people die in the war no-body watched. Iraqi airforce destroyed by Iranian Tomcats.
1988 – US-Iran fight over oil tankers. Iranian navy sunk in one afternoon.
1988 – US warship Vincennes crosses into Iranian territorial waters, clashes with Iranian gunboats and shoots down a civilian Airbus killing 290 passengers and crew. Captain of the Vincennes awarded the legion of Merit medal.
1991 – First Gulf War. Britain doesn’t invade Basra. Iraqi airforce destroyed.
1991-2003 – Britain & US “enforce the UN resolutions” by bombing Iraq.
2003 – Second Gulf War. Britain does invade Basra. Iraqi airforce would have been destroyed more, if they’d had one.
2003 onwards – Britain & US remain in Iraq to bring democracy.
What can we learn from this story? 1) Don’t join the Iraqi air force. 2) Don’t join the Iranian navy. 3) You can trust us to have an entirely consistent foriegn policy.